Archive for American literature

death of a giant [Ursula K Le Guin, 1929-2018]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , , , on January 27, 2018 by xi'an

Heard this early morning that Ursula Le Guin had died last evening. Sad to see this major writer departing for one of the magnificent universes she created, like Earthsea or Gethen… (Not a major science-fiction writer. Not a major fantasy writer. A major writer, full stop!) Much to my sorrow, I have not [yet] read the highly celebrated Left Hand of Darkness. With its original reflection on an a-sexual society, reproduced by later authors like Ann Lecke’s great Ancilary trilogy. But I enjoyed immensely the Earthsea cycle, which is made of beautiful and moving stories with central characters that are multiple and complex and imperfect. I also love the philosophy that runs behind these books, with a less conflictual approach to human interactions than in traditional fantasy. As indicated on her Wikipedia page, Ursula  Le Guin had a personal philosophy that was a mix of Taoism and anarchism (Proudhon’s anarchism), reflected in the stateless organisations of some of her fictional universes.

 “[anarchism] is a necessary ideal at the very least. It is an ideal without which we couldn’t go on. If you are asking me is anarchism at this point a practical movement, well, then you get in the question of where you try to do it and who’s living on your boundary?”

As a linguistic aside, I have always wondered about Le Guin name as it sounded quite Breton to me, but never checked before. This is in fact the name of her Breton husband, Charles Le Guin, a historian, whom she met on the Queen Mary bound to France, when they were both on Fulbright Fellowships, in 1953. (Sounds like so so far away, times when travelling to France was done by boat! I still have this wish or dream I could once board a freighter to cross the Atlantic…)